Getting the Ballast Right

Many years ago a ship sank off the coast of Nova Scotia during a winter storm. Many people perished, including the captain. The crew gathered seventy of the passengers, including women and children, and put them into a huge, open rowboat. However, the weather got rough, and the crew thought the boat was overcrowded. In an effort to get the ballast right, they picked up people and tossed them into the sea. Then the boat started leaking. Throughout the night, as the boat sank lower, more people were thrown off the boat to drown in the frigid waters. The next morning the crew arrived on shore with only nine people on board.

Tragically, judgmental churches sometimes act like that. They want to get the ballast just right so they throw out people they consider to be sinners. Most churches don’t do that formally, although some do. Most do it informally: they just let people know they are not welcome. But one way or another, they get rid of them. Like the sailors in the above story, they throw out the perceived sinners. Here are divorced persons; let’s throw them out. Here are alcoholics and drug addicts; let’s throw them out. Here’s an unwed mother; let’s throw her out. Here’s a person who believes in evolution; let’s throw him out. Here’s a homosexual; let’s throw him out.

Thankfully, Jesus didn’t throw anyone out. Instead, he modeled a grace-filled religion that welcomed all. It’s not our job to get the ballast right. We can leave that job to God. Instead, we would do well to remember the teaching of Jesus, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.”